By Phyllis Stephen
It is always fascinating to find out how the really rich have made their money. Even now, as we rail against the rich bankers who have retained their wealth even in disgrace, we are still captivated by the list prepared each year by the Sunday Times. The collective wealth of the top 100 rich Scots is over £14 billion. It is interesting to read, but more intriguing perhaps because there is a chance, in the village that is Scotland, that you could run into these people just walking along the street or having a coffee.
Many of them actually live in Edinburgh at least some of the time. Sir David Murray has a house here and his office is in Charlotte Square, although his main business interest – that of running Rangers Football Club – takes him to Glasgow on occasion. JK Rowling lives in Marchmont and also has a country estate in Perthshire. It is well known that she can often be seen accompanied by that other Edinburgh-based author, Ian Rankin, having a coffee in Starbucks. An educated guess says The Duke of Sutherland must live in Sutherland….
Brian Souter of Stagecoach lives near Perth, and his sister Ann Gloag lives at Kinfauns Castle, where she famously erected a six-foot-high fence around her house to keep out ramblers exercising their right to roam in accordance with the 2003 legislation which allows them to do so. She failed in her case against Perth Council to keep the ramblers away from her front door. Sir Arnold Clark has several homes but mostly lives just outside Glasgow. Keith Miller lives on the same street in Edinburgh as Sir David Murray, and Dr Walter Scott owns much of Charlotte Square, including the office at the corner which has a golden windvane on top of it. Sir Angus Grossart, banker, lives in a townhouse on Northumberland Street and is often seen lunching in Harvey Nicks wearing his signature pinstriped suit.
Sir Tom Farmer usually worships at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral on York Place and is often seen dining in Leith. The housebuilder Stewart Milne and Sir Ian Wood, whose family firm made millions from the oil industry, keep to the environs of Aberdeen. Bill Robertson, another housebuilder, sticks to his childhood stomping ground of Elgin and Audrey Baxter, she of the soup family, lives in Moray as well
Robert Douglas Miller, whose family owned Jenners, still lives in Edinburgh, although he must be aghast at the way the store has gone rapidly downhill since he sold out to House of Fraser in 2005.
Notable by their presence on the list are Sir Sean Connery, who as we all know does not ever live here in Scotland, and David Coulthard, who is based in Monaco for obvious reasons.
But did you know that Mark Knopfler was Scottish? I really think he is on the wrong list but there he is in at number 59, a position improved since last year, when he only ranked 82nd.
So keep your eyes open. You never know who you might meet! Of course, if the Scottish Government uses its powers to reduce income tax in Scotland we might encourage an influx of high earners wishing to avail themselves of our little tax haven. At least then we might find the money to finish off the tramworks properly…